Washington, D.C.’s premier ‘foodie’ extravaganza, the 2nd annual Taste of DC, brought warm deliciousness to the heart of the capital during the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-8. Thirty restaurants gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue with food samples, music and entertainment for people of the National Capital Region. Thanks to a partnership between USDA and Taste of DC organizers, the Food Safety and Inspection Service was able to stir food safety into the mix of culinary topics.
As the driver of the Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ), USDA’s fully-interactive food safety exhibit-on-wheels, I was thrilled at the chance to park our “food truck” right next to those serving some of my favorite types of food. This proved to be a really effective location for reaching a large audience, as more than 250 eager families toured the exhibit and learned about our core food safety messages: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Outside the mobile, thousands of people chatted with the FSDZ staff, picked up brochures and magnets for their kitchens, and played the ever-popular Food Safety Wheel game.
The wet October rain did little to dampen the spirits of event goers. Many found shelter from the elements in the Culinary Tent, where the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline’s own Nadine Shaw and CiCi Williamson gave live cooking demonstrations. Nadine and CiCi made four tailgaiting dishes—Taco-topped Potato Skins, ribs, Herbed Kebobs, and Apple Maple Turkey Burgers—showing how to limit the opportunity for pathogen growth at each step of the cooking process and while serving at the game.
Judging from the “ooh’s and ahh’s” of people touring the Discovery Zone and the questions asked by Nadine and CiCi’s attentive audience, the Taste of DC was an excellent setting for delivering important food safety messages. Getting to sample food from 30 of the District’s best-known restaurants was certainly a perk for me, but the biggest reward was seeing people learn something new. Go to USDA’s Flickr page to see a video that really captures the excitement of the event and shows the funky interior of the FSDZ.
If you have food safety questions or would like to request materials for an outreach event, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also follow FSIS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usdafoodsafety.
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Since I'm a retired WSU Extension Educator who did a lot of events and classes on food safety, I wish I could have participated in your event. The public needs more information on healthy eating and food safety. Maybe your truck can visit county fairs around the country.